OK, so we know that the lights and excitement of using a computer can affect your kids' body chemistry and keep them awake longer than you'd like. But there is also a much simpler factor in play: Spending time on a computer can alter your kids' bedtimes, and irregular bedtimes can make it harder to sleep.
Kids today use media and electronics for longer periods of time than ever before. Unlike TV shows, which have a defined start and end point, computer use can go on indefinitely. And because computers can be used at any time of day, they're often used late into the evening and right before bed. As a parent, you've probably heard your kids plead for five more minutes of computer time before it's lights out, but going to sleep at a different time each night can really disturb your their sleep habits. A consistent bedtime every night will go a long way toward making sure your kids get the rest they need.
For the best chance at getting a good night's sleep, the National Sleep Foundation suggests avoiding exposure to bright lights at nighttime, and putting away the computer (or any electronic media) at least an hour before bedtime. Another tip, from the National Institutes of Health, is to take the computer out of the bedroom. If kids' brains are conditioned to expect stimulation when they're around the computer, keeping it in the place they're trying to sleep can be counterproductive.
Want to know more about kids and sleep? The links on the next page might just lull you in.